Age diversity is essential to our success – Immeasurable experience
Long-standing employees and their treasure trove of experience are essential to Freudenberg’s success. Their institutional knowledge is not only beneficial to the company but also for customers. One of these experienced colleagues is Tom Vassallo, former President of Helix Medical, now Freudenberg Medical. He looks back on an exceptional medical device career that started with his service as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy.
After earning degrees in Biology and Chemistry, Tom Vassallo launched his career as a field salesperson with American Hospital Supply Corporation. From there, he progressed to the position of Vice President of Sales/Marketing and then co-founded a Company specializing in bone replacement. In 1985, with two decades of industry experience, he joined Helix Medical, Inc. as Vice President of Sales/Marketing – eventually co-founding InHealth Technologies with the renowned physician Dr. Eric Blom.
The medical device industry is very close-knit, so the contacts Vassallo cultivated were vital to Helix’s expansion to the lap band and extrusion businesses. When Helix was acquired by the Freudenberg Group, Vassallo served as Helix’s President for two years before transitioning into an Executive Vice President position. He notes that he has “greatly appreciated Freudenberg’s dedication and willingness to invest in the company’s growth and global presence.” Vassallo worked with the due diligence team for the start-up of the Costa Rica facility and the M&A teams on various projects. His handprint on the company’s success as a global brand are indelible.
Even while Vassallo has reached retirement age, he is still a valuable consultant. As a virtual industry encyclopedia, he has always enjoyed mentoring new Freudenberg associates on the history of the company and the industry, as well as what the future holds. Vassallo is involved in projects, he supports with customer meetings and events and is present at the office regularly with an open door for everyone. “We have many people who dedicated their entire career to the company, and I’m grateful for them and their contributions,” he says. The enduring personal ties that have developed – from the people on the shop floor all the way up to the CEO – have all been meaningful and important to him. All those relationships, Vassallo says, “have given me so much more than I think I gave them.”
I truly love what I do and it is rewarding to contribute value for our customers and to the products we produce. It’s as close as I can get to being a physician, which was my original career goal.
former President of Helix Medical, now Freudenberg Medical
He adds, “Obviously, the other parts of this job that are really satisfying are the products we make and working with inventors to codevelop devices like the lap band, which helps improve the quality of life for those struggling to lose weight.” Working with opinion leaders like Dr. Eric Blom to create voice prostheses for those enduring emotional pain due to devastating health conditions such as cancer of the larynx was also very fulfilling. Vassallo concludes, “I truly love what I do and it is rewarding to contribute value for our customers and to the products we produce. It’s as close as I can get to being a physician, which was my original career goal.”